Google I/O 2015 preview: Android M, Brillo and virtual reality tales

June is a bumper month for conferences across the world, with WWDC, Computex and E3 within weeks of each other. Arguably though, there’s a much more important event that opens the curtains for these. Mountain View will head to San Francisco on 28 May to kick off Google I/O — the company’s most important event of the year.

It’s generally a software developers paradise, but we have seen the odd hardware surprise here and there in the past.

So, before the multicoloured mayhem begins in earnest, we look forward to the conference that will define Google‘s next 12 months.

Android M: the next version of Android

Like I said, software. Google’s trump card has always been Android and its domination of the smartphone market. While Android Lollipop adoption rates have been slower than an old-age home for sloths, the company is readying its shiny new version of Android.

android bean bag kham tran

Image: Kham Tran via Flickr

Dubbed Android M (allegedly internally known as Macadamia Nut Cookie) for the moment, we’ll see a number of new features coming to the OS that will hope to sustain its lead before Windows 10 and iOS 9 is launched later this year.

Read more: Android L cometh: everything you need to know about Google’s latest OS

What features do I speak of? Well, there’s a big rumour floating around that fingerprint passwords will become a mainstream feature, according to BuzzFeed. “The new functionality will allow users to log in to all of the supported applications on their Android devices without entering a password,” the report suggested.

We’re pretty sure that this will need a fingerprint reader of some kind, but it does suggest that more Android devices may feature readers in the future.

Other features like notifications across platforms and multi-window support should also be expected to make an appearance, but we really don’t know for certain what Google’s mobile OS future holds.

Brillo: Google’s Internet of Things OS play


Speaking of the future, the smart home space is also in Google’s eye, but we’re not too sure if many people really care. Nevertheless, the company is working “on technology that could run on low-powered devices, possibly with as few as 64 or 32 megabytes of random-access memory,” according to The Information.

It’s particularly interesting considering that Android runs on devices with 512MB, with Android Wear dropping a little below that. Some suggest that the OS falling in below will be called Brillo, and will power the next generation of smart fridges, couches and coffee mugs that alert you when your coffee is running low.

Read more: Google’s smart home is now open as Nest API seeds to eager devs

Jest aside, it sounds particularly important for the company’s Nest integration. It’s set of smart thermostats and other gadgets will be the bedrock of its home invasion. Perhaps Brillo is being designed to lead the Nest’s development direction?

Chromecast 2: 4K support, faster WiFi coming?

chromecast screen sharing

Google’s Chromecast is the little device that could. It sells like hot cakes and makes practically any dumb TV smart without the gimmicks, but it hasn’t been updated in eons.

Read more: Google Chromecast review: great potential

We may very well see a new device that sports 4K or a higher frame rate 1080p. 802.11 ac WiFi might play a role as well, with the higher bandwidth and faster transfer rate demands that comes with more pixels.

Of course, it’ll likely take a back seat to the other announcements, but chances are we’ll hear a little bit about it in the “Gaming on Android TV” slot on 28 May or “Developing for the living room with Google.”

Google Cardboard: advancements in cheap, homemade VR (or maybe something more substantial)

Cardboard main

“Virtual reality is a big thing” — now there’s an understatement.

Going forward virtual (and augmented) reality will play a big part in our daily lives, whether it be heads up display in our cars or immersive gaming experiences.

Read more: Meet Cardboard: Google’s free VR headset for anyone with an Android phone

Google, although not as vested in the industry as some other players, will likely showcase smaller advancements. We could see a new Google Cardboard, or at least a few more advancements made on the do-it-yourself headset for the masses.

It will definitely be interesting to hear where Google sees itself in the virtual reality race, and with its Google Glass augmented reality headset dying before it got a chance to really stretch its legs. What are the chances of an updated version paraded around by Sundar Pichai, we wonder?

Google’s marriage with iOS

google android ios

Two competing companies can work together, and one example is Google and Apple. Perhaps it’s strange, as they’re fierce competitors in the mobile OS space, but it seems that platform agnosticism is the future of devices.

With competing ideals, the companies don’t usually see eye to eye, but Google will outline the details on the company’s new marriage with iOS. This includes Android Wear’s cross-platform compatibility with iOS, allowing Android Wear smartwatches to be used on iOS, and more common apps like Hangouts and the like.

We’re definitely interested to see just how platform agnostic Google will become with its smartwatch OS in the future.

Feature image: Maurizio Pesce via Flickr

Andy Walker, former editor


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